Lagos PDP: Far from being united
•Shelle declares Lagos chapter’s support for Sheriff
THE huge crowd of party faithful that attended the general meeting of the Lagos State chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday was not an indication that the party’s internal crisis has been resolved, as the two warring factions remained adamant.
Up till yesterday, the faction led by the former Deputy National Chairman, South West zone, Chief Olabode George and loyalists to former Minister of Defense, Musiliu Obaniko were still at daggers drawn laying claims and counter claims on why and how the party lost abysmally to the well oiled and more politically organized All Progressives Congress (APC) during the 2015 governorship election.
While the George camp alleged that Obanikoro’s faction should be held responsible for the party’s defeat because of their selfish interest and anti party activities, which included indiscipline and betrayal of common interest, the other faction was alleging that the chairman, Capt. Tunji Shelle misappropriated the funds meant for campaign.
As political analysts observed, the party stood a better chance in the election, if it had been able to put its house in order, take proper advantage of the internal wrangling that befell the ruling APC at the time as well as make use of the federal might and massive support it got from non-indigenes resident in the state.
Unfortunately it was wrecked and surrendered to the ruling APC as a result of its inability to put its house in order, a perennial problem that has been recurring since 1999 when Nigeria returned to democracy. On record, Lagos is one of the few states where the PDP has not tasted power in the last 16 years of civil administration.
In the election, the party went as far as presenting a ‘neutral’ person, Mr. Jimi Agbaje who is considered to be the most popular and acceptable candidate the Lagos chapter ever presented but yet lost to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of the APC.
However, the PDP having also lost the centre to the APC last year was now placed at a difficult position in the area of funding, mobilization and internal cohesion ahead of any other election in the state. All efforts to forestall further calamities by the leadership of the party during the Tuesday meeting appeared not to be yielding any positive result.
Speaking at the meeting, Chief George called on the members to come together to put their hands on the plough to rebuild the party, stressing that the journey of renewal and revival of the PDP has begun.
George said the march towards 2019 has begun in earnest and there was the need for all to return to their various wards to start massive mobilization.
In similar vein, Agbaje urged the members to set the outcome of the governorship election behind them and work eagerly to claim victory in the coming local government election in Lagos and the 2019 elections.
Agbaje encouraged the members to place the outcome of the 2015 election behind them and eschew malice “what is important now is how to rebuild the PDP and reposition it towards the 2019 elections. If anybody is angry, I should be the one because after the election I got broke financially.”
George on his part blamed the PDP’s woes in the 2015 election on the alleged activities of agent provocateurs within our ranks “We were defeated by political renegades who merely invested in their own greedy and selfish interests. Evil characters that preferred the narrow position of the ministerial office than the collective esteem and honor of winning Lagos gubernatorial election scuttled our victory.”
He noted that the greatest challenge of the party has always been indiscipline where people no longer obey the rules of the game and invent their own rules “this cannot continue. Nobody is above the constitution of the party. We must either conform with the strict adherence to the normative pattern of party rules or we ship out. There will be no exemptions. The party is supreme.”
The former deputy national chairman also announced that henceforth “all the so called alliances from the Isale-Eko mandate to Idumota Initiative, from Global Mandate to Surulere Parapo should all be disbanded, dissolved, dismantled immediately. Let all of them pack up forthwith and fuse into the integral body of our party. PDP is our truly uniting body. It is our unifying strength and our great beacon of solidarity.”
Also speaking at the meeting former Minister of Works, Chief Adeseye Ogunlewe, admonished members not to be discouraged by some happenings within the party both at the state and national level. He assured that the party would come out stronger.
Realising the damages which internal crises has caused the Lagos PDP in the last 16 years; Ogunlewe emphasised the need for reconciliation, unity and oneness, urging that members should take ownership.
He hinged the future of the party on its firm grip of the four states in the South-South region, saying: “With the control of four states in the South-South, I can tell you that our future is very bright. These four states control over 50 per cent of the nation’s economy, that is why the APC are apprehensive but God has vindicated us starting with Bayelsa and Rivers.”
MEANWHILE, the embattled secretary of the party, Mr. Wahab Owokoniran, denied having foreknowledge of the general meeting as he also accused Shelle of misappropriating money meant for campaign during the elections.
He berated Shelle for his high handedness and the way he handled campaign fund.
On reasons he didn’t attend the meeting he said, “I would not be part of such gathering because it was illegal.”
He also debunked allegations by Shelle that he was handcuffed in his former party before joining the PDP. According to him, “It was a lie from the pit of hell. I have never been handcuffed in my life. I was an elected chairman of Ikeja Local Government. Ikeja is the capital of the state and you know what it meant winning election there.”
Furthermore, he alleged: “Shelle was the secretary of the PDP in 2011 general elections when the PDP recorded the worst results. I came in barely three years and was able to organise the party; like securing the votes of non-indigenes which helped the party in no small measure. Can you imagine that Shelle spent N60m to brand a rice of N10m?”
He also dismissed the allegation that he (Owokoniran) worked in concert with Obanikoro to destroy the party “it was Shelle who could not win in his consistency that should be held responsible for the PDP woes.”
But Shelle said Owokoniran and his team were the real enemies within that destroyed the chances of the party during the 2015 election. On the allegations of fund misappropriation, the chairman said he came from a descent family background where honesty and modesty was preached. According to him, they cannot substantiate the allegation. He also added that achievements recorded by the party during his tenure and in the 2015 election was the first of its kind since 1999.
Shelle also doused the controversies surrounding the election of the new National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, which also divided.
Shelle said the Lagos executive, as well as the entire members of the party endorsed Sheriff “as we expect him to visit us any moment from now.”
According to him, “It was false that the Lagos chapter did not support Sheriff. We are totally behind him and we will also work in harmony with him to reposition the party.”
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